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Clarification on the Teaching about the Church

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Zenit has published the English translation of the document “Clarification on the Doctrine of the Church.” The document is short and regards five questions about Vatican II’s doctrine on the Church. The questions are:

  1. Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?
  2. What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
  3. Why was the expression “subsists in” adopted instead of the simple word “is”?
  4. Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term “Church” in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
  5. Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

I was still in the seminary way back in 1984-85 when these questions were first discussed to us. Twenty years after learning lessons in ecclesiology from Dominican professors, there isn’t anything new here except perhaps in the clarifications relevant to Ecumenism. The declaration “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church ” not only expresses the full identity of the Church established by Christ with the visible Catholic Church, it also shows that in other non-Catholic Churches, elements of the Church of Christ can be recognized. There are however other groups which may have the Bible but do not have the sacraments. The document does not give them the name “Church”; they are rather “groups” “communions” or “assemblies.” Now, I know that those from the Iglesya ni Cristo (Manalistas) or the Iglesya ng Diyos (whether that of the ADD or the other one) won’t take this positively. But it is clear that they are not to be regarded as “Churches”.

There have been adverse reactions to the document, especially coming from mainline Protestantism. However, Cardinal Kasper explains that the document embodies the Catholic Church’s understanding of itself and represents and urgent invitation to dialogue. The Cardinal’s explanation of the nature of the document and its relevance to dialogues in progress is found here.

Originally posted 2007-07-15 22:41:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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    Tisa Gamrath

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